Resources for Seniors During the COVID-19 Pandemic

RESOURCES FOR SENIORS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Last month, I voted to support the passage of the CARES Act, which includes several provisions to ensure that seniors have resources to help them through the novel coronavirus outbreak. Additionally, the State of Minnesota and local businesses have taken steps to prevent the spread of the virus and protect our seniors and most vulnerable.


Resources in the CARES Act

  • Direct Payments – Social Security recipients, including retirement, disability, survivor recipients and SSI recipients are eligible.
    • These individuals will receive the full direct payment amount as long as they have a Social Security number and household incomes are $75,000 or below for individuals, $112,500 or below for head of household and $150,000 or below for married couples.
    • All Social Security beneficiaries, even those who didn’t file a tax return, will be paid automatically by the IRS.
    • Direct payments will not affect your eligibility for programs like SSI, SNAP, Medicaid, housing assistance or other income-related federal programs.
       
  • Social Security Trust Fund – The CARES Act will have no effect on the Social Security fund.
    • The bill lets employers temporarily delay payment of their share of Social Security payroll taxes. This allows businesses to make their owed payments in 2021 and 2022.
    • This won’t change the amount or timing of money deposited into the Social Security trust fund – the CARES Act replenishes the trust fund from general revenues.
  • Retirement Savings – The CARES Act temporarily suspends required minimum distributions (RMDs) for the rest of 2020.
    • This will prevent seniors from having to draw down their retirement accounts during the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
       
  • Senior Services – The CARES Act provided an additional $820 million for crucial programs authorized under the Older Americans Act.
    • $420 million for senior nutrition services like Meals on Wheels. This helps our seniors stay at home and have access to nutritious food at home.
    • $200 million for state and community programs on aging. These programs provide supportive services like case management, necessary in-home services and information and referral.
    • $100 million specifically set aside for family caregivers so that they have the resources necessary to continue to care for their loved ones safely.
       
  • Senior Housing – The CARES Act provided an additional $50 million for the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, which will help senior housing facilities maintain normal operations and take necessary actions to help keep the coronavirus out of those facilities.
    • The bill includes $10 million for service coordinators, who connect our seniors to the services they need to live healthy lives, including nutrition services, case management and health care resources.

Resources for Seniors in Minnesota

  • Mortgage Payments -- If you are currently falling behind on mortgage payments or feel that you may fall behind in the coming months, contact your mortgage servicer as soon as possible to find out what options are available to you. Your mortgage servicer is the company listed on your monthly mortgage statement. If your lender has relief options available, you must request mortgage assistance to receive it.
     
  • Special Shopping Hours for Seniors -- The following stores are holding special shopping hours for seniors and vulnerable populations:
    • Aldi: 8:30-9:30AM, Tuesdays and Thursdays
    • Costco: 9-10 AM, daily
    • Cub Foods: 6-7 AM daily
    • Dollar General: First hour of operation at each location
    • Hy-Vee: 7-8AM, seven days a week
    • Target: first hour on Wednesdays
    • Walmart: 8-9AM on Tuesdays
       
  • SNAP Assistance: During the COVID-19 pandemic, some Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients may be unable to leave their homes to go grocery shopping. The Minnesota Department of Human Services is reminding SNAP recipients that they can designate someone to use their EBT card so that person can shop for them using the SNAP recipient’s benefits. SNAP recipients who are confined to their homes during this crisis should:
    • Find a trusted adult who can shop for them and deliver their groceries.
    • Call their county or tribal financial worker to have the adult added as an authorized representative on their case.
    • The authorized representative will then receive an EBT card in the mail
       
  • Long-Term Care: The Minnesota Department of Health has issued guidance to long-term care facilities on how they should be prepared for COVID-19. This includes many steps to keep seniors safe. You can find this guidance here. If you have questions, you can call 651-201-5414.
     
  • Accessible Information: Everyone has been affected by COVID-19, including people who are deaf, blind and hard of hearing. However, for people in this community, getting the information and services they need to stay safe may be harder to find. The Minnesota Department of Human Services, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division website at mn.gov/deaf-hard-of-hearing offers links to accessible COVID-19 information and resources to meet this need. If you need help finding an ASL interpreter, would like to learn more about working with interpreters or about assistive technology, these resources are also available on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division's website.